Facebook launches Nearby Friends feature for mobile

 

Wondering which of your Facebook friends are in the neighborhood? Facebook now gives you that answer. Soon, Android and iOS users will be able to opt-in to a location service called Nearby Friends.

Facebook stressed in the blog post announcement that this is opt-in (compared to many other services Facebook launches, which are opt-out). Facebook has done something similar in the past, where users are notified when a friend checks in somewhere nearby, but now you’ll be able to see who is around without them checking in.

Users who do this will be able to choose who can see their location.

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Slideshow: 10 apps growing wildly on the Facebook platform

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As Facebook’s F8 conference — a developer’s haven — approaches, the social network recently identified 10 high-performing apps to Inside Facebook that are either seeing stellar return on investment through ads or are growing through Open Graph and Facebook Login.

Some, like Hotels.com and Top Eleven: Be a Football Manager, may not be new to Facebook users, but the Facebook platform has helped emerging apps such as YPlan, Cooliris and Swell Radio, as well.

The F8 conference has been a major boon to apps such as Spotify … could the 10 apps listed below be the next to make it big?

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FTC approves $19B Facebook-WhatsApp deal — with a caveat

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The Federal Trade Commission approved Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp on Thursday, but issued a warning to the messaging app that it needs to keep its pre-Facebook level of privacy in place.

Bureau Director Jessica Rich wrote a letter to both companies’ legal counsel, noting that before making any changes to how Facebook uses data already collected from WhatsApp users, both companies must get affirmative consent. Facebook/WhatsApp also must not misrepresent their efforts in maintaining the privacy and security of data. Rich also recommends that WhatsApp users be able to opt out of any future changes to how newly-collected data is used.

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UPDATED: Facebook to shutter messaging in flagship app, push for Messenger

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Facebook has been prompting mobile users to invite their friends to download Messenger, but now it appears that soon there won’t be a choice.

Facebook has confirmed to Inside Facebook that Facebook has plans to remove the messaging feature from its flagship mobile app and force the use of Messenger if users want to send messages from their phone or tablet:

Today we are starting to notify people that messages are moving out of the Facebook app and over to the Messenger app. To continue sending messages on mobile, people will need to install the Messenger app.

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Facebook tests more iOS-like design of Android app

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Facebook appears to be testing a new design for the Android app that is somewhat similar to the iOS version.

This new version — first noticed by Blink Vice President of Planning and Media Eti Suruzon on AllFacebook — has the status update, photo & check-in buttons at the bottom of the screen with a new organization for News Feed, messages and notifications.

Click below to see the design Facebook is testing for Android.

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Facebook announces premium auto-play video ads for mobile

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Auto-play video ads are making their way to the mobile News Feed. Facebook on Thursday announced that a select group of advertisers will have access to premium video ads on mobile, which will play automatically without sound. The user can then tap the ad to play sound and see the video in full-screen mode.

Each ad will last 15 seconds and will stop if scrolled past.

This may not happen immediately — Facebook notes that these video ads will be rolled out slowly over the next few months. Facebook will also be keeping close tabs on how users interact with these auto-play video ads. Facebook has been testing auto-play video ads already on desktop and auto-play it is a key video feature of Facebook’s popular photo and video-sharing app Instagram. Previously, Facebook ad tested auto-play video ads on mobile with the movie Divergent, but now a few more advertisers will have access to this.

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Facebook Messenger launches on Windows Phone

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While Facebook is rapidly developing experiences for iOS and Android, the Windows Phone platform often gets short shrift. The company is changing that, announcing Wednesday that Facebook Messenger has launched for Windows Phone.

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Facebook mobile drives 51% of referrals

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Shareaholic, a content discovery and sharing platform, found in a recent report that 51 percent of Facebook referrals come from mobile.

The new findings are a follow-up to Shareaholic’s October report, which includes four extra months of data. What they found is that Facebook mobile is sending more referrals, meaning the mobile base continues to grow along with Facebook’s overall user base.

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Facebook acquires WhatsApp for $16 billion

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Facebook may have failed in its bid to acquire popular messaging app Snapchat, but the social network announced Wednesday that it has closed a deal to buy WhatsApp for roughly $16 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, posted to his Facebook page how WhatsApp will work with Facebook:

WhatsApp will continue to operate independently within Facebook. The product roadmap will remain unchanged and the team is going to stay in Mountain View. Over the next few years, we’re going to work hard to help WhatsApp grow and connect the whole world. We also expect that WhatsApp will add to our efforts forInternet.org, our partnership to make basic internet services affordable for everyone.

WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community. Facebook Messenger is widely used for chatting with your Facebook friends, and WhatsApp for communicating with all of your contacts and small groups of people. Since WhatsApp and Messenger serve such different and important uses, we will continue investing in both and making them each great products for everyone.

WhatsApp had every option in the world, so I’m thrilled that they chose to work with us. I’m looking forward to what Facebook and WhatsApp can do together, and to developing great new mobile services that give people even more options for connecting.

WhatsApp’s brand will be maintained (and ad free, according to the company) and CEO Jan Koum will join Facebook’s board of directors.

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Facebook’s window to emerging markets: mobile

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One of the most impressive facets of Facebook’s development as a company has been its international growth. In Q4 2012, Facebook’s ad revenue from Asia was $168 million. That has nearly doubled, to $318 million in Q4 2013. In countries outside of the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia, ad revenue grew from $156 million in Q4 2012 to $300 million in Q4 2013.

The major factor, notes Upstream Head of Engagement Management Markellos Diorinos, has been Facebook’s ability to make the site viable and valuable on mobile phones all over the world. As Facebook for Every Phone becomes more popular by the day, and Mark Zuckerberg’s vision of connecting the world through Internet.org starts to take hold, Facebook becomes a more serious player in emerging markets. In Upstream’s findings, while mobile may garner fewer impressions, the value-per-impression is 92 percent higher than desktop.

What’s next for Facebook? Diorinos sees great untapped potential in Africa.

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